Whether you’re thinking ahead for your son or daughter’s new semester or searching for solutions to better organize their current dorm room, follow some simple dorm room organization tips to easily maximize their living space — and make their lives easier, too.


Students living in dorm rooms across the country have, on average, 228 square feet of living space — which quickly shrinks down to 114 square feet with a roommate. Whether you’re thinking ahead for your son or daughter’s new semester or searching for solutions to better organize their current dorm room, it’s crucial to make the most of that space.

By following some simple dorm room organization tips, you can plan ahead and easily maximize their living space — and make their lives easier, too.

For more floor space: Raised beds.

dorm room organization

Bed risers. You’d be surprised at how much available space is under dorm room beds. Bed risers simply lift the bed a few inches off the ground, but offer plenty of extra storage space for totes, seasonal clothes and items kids may not need to access every day. Some even conveniently offer outlets, so students can plug in lights and have easy access to electronic appliances.

Lofted beds. Move over bed risers, loft beds are the new dorm room heroes. Where bed risers do offer some extra under-the-bed storage space, bed lofts free up a ton of floor space for living and lounging. Once the bottom bunk is removed, your son or daughter can store a desk, couch and other essential items underneath the bed. By constructing this on your own, you can save money and personalize the style to fit your room.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Lag bolts (¼ inch by 2 ½ inch)
  • Tape measure
  • Step ladder

This process can be dangerous if done incorrectly, so help your kids out with the construction aspect (and check with the university to see if they allow loft beds on campus).

Prefer something more compact and mobile? Futons take up less space than traditional beds and also serve more than one use: they can be used as sofas during the day and instantly turn into full-size beds by night.

For clutter-free counters: Removable wall storage.

dorm room wall storage

When it comes to dorm rooms, wall storage is one of your best bets for maximizing existing space. A few simple products can help your kids keep their desk and countertops clutter-free. Before move-in day, invest in the following to help your college student stay organized all semester long.

Stick-on pods. Small things like makeup, toiletries and nailpolishes can easily (and quickly) add up to large piles of clutter. Removable pods easily attach to the side of desks, walls, and cabinet doors — which is super convenient when it comes to making the most of small dorm room spaces.

Adhesive hooks. When planning out what your son or daughter will need, remember that nailing things into a dorm room wall is frowned upon. Adhesive hooks easily latch onto the wall, can hold a solid amount of weight and won’t leave any marks.

“Command Strips are great to utilize for hanging frames above the bed, canvases on the wall, a hook on the hutch for headphones, inside of the armoire for a robe, a memo board on the door and wall pockets for dishes,” notes Jen from I Heart Organizing. “They were our go to item all day long and really allowed us to make the space feel like home.”

Magnetic strips. Prevent desktop clutter with magnetic strips, which have glue adhered to one side. Attach the magnetic strip to the wall and organize small essentials like makeup and school supplies. These can even be personalized with paint or fabric to match your student’s room.

For more closet space: Hanger hacks.

dorm room ideas

Soda can tabs. The one piece that will save the day for your son or daughter’s closet is soda can tabs. Why only use traditional hangers when you can double the existing hanger space? Soda tabs easily slip onto the hangers’ hooks and allow you to hang another article of clothing, giving you more space in your small dorm closet.

How to do it: Start saving soda can tabs and bring them with you on move-in day. Simply loop the soda can tab on a hanger, let it slide down to the neck, and loop the top of the second hanger through the tab. This will help maximize space and even help coordinate some of their favorite outfits.

All-purpose hangers. Not enough space for jewelry and accessories in dorm rooms? No problem. All-purpose hangers give college students a tangle-free place to safely hang and display earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Dormify offers the perfect jewelry hanger that offers unique and organized storage for your favorite statement pieces.

Tension rods. There are endless uses for this wonderful invention. If your kids tend to be the types to keep their shoes in an unorganized pile on the floor, installing tension rods will act as shelves and easily help organize every pair they own. Tammy, fashion blogger for A Loyal Love, has a great display of organized and functional tension rod organization for her shoes.

For hidden storage: Multi-functional pieces.

dorm room storage ottoman

Dorm rooms may be small, but using multi-functional pieces will help your kids make the most of the space they do have. Invest in the following pieces to add functional storage:

Storage ottomans. Add some lounge furniture to your college student’s dorm room — but make that piece of furniture count. Storage ottomans also act as storage baskets and allow kids to easily stow clothing, blankets, shoes or extra accessories under the lid.

Over-the-door organizers. Commonly used for shoe organization, over-the-door organizers can be used for storing anything: hats, accessories, snacks and more. Toni, organizer and blogger for A Bowl Full of Lemons, suggests using over-the-door organizers for school supplies, which has worked wonderfully for keeping her kids things in order.

Caddies. Shower caddies make the perfect organization tools — especially because they offer built-in wall storage, shelves and hooks. Purchase your son or daughter an extra shower caddy to hang supplies from their wall or desk. Want to organize all of your bedside essentials like chargers, remotes and books? Bed caddies serve as ultimate nightstands and attach directly to the bed frame.

For messy drawers: Compartmentalization

dorm room organization

It’s easy to start college off on the right foot, but after a few weeks or so, organization can go right out the window. The solution? Set up a system in clutter areas to help keep your college student organized.

To prevent stuff piling up in your drawers, it’s good to micro-organize the space in order to keep your possessions separate and accessible. Here are a few drawer ideas that can help organize and divide your things:

Multi-sectioned inserts. Cut a piece of newspaper the size of the desk drawer and bring it along for drawer insert shopping. Whether you buy material to make drawer separators or buy a premade insert, you can count on drawer organization to neatly store your clothes.

DIY inserts. Prefer to make your own? Clip together mini cardboard boxes to create organized storage for small necessities like pens, pencils, lipsticks, or whatever else may clutter your student’s drawers.

PVC pipe organizers. It’s more of a DIY project, but PVC pipe is super inexpensive and also a great way to keep clothes organized.

“You’ll just need to measure the height of each drawer and cut the pipe into the proper height,” suggests Vanessa Beaty of DIY and Crafts. “Depending on the depth of the drawer, you may be able to get several organizers in there and roll up things like neckties and scarves and organize them in the pipe.”

Experts from Apartment Therapy also recommend keeping the tools that are the foundation of tasks available in the top-most drawers (like pens, binder clips, keys, phones and agendas). To do this in an efficient manner, place items in each drawer one by one — and organize these by your personal needs and supplies.

For everyday dorm room organization: There’s an app for that.

dorm room organization

Dorm room organization goes above and beyond material belongings. Having the right tools to keep homework and schedules organized can help with dorm room organization, too. Here are a few apps that can save your kids time and hassle in their chaotic schedules:

Snap2PDF: This document management app is perfect for organizing notes, homework and review sheets. Snap2PDF takes a picture of your handouts and converts them to PDF documents. Not only does it help get rid of endless piles of paper, but it saves tons of desk space, too.

iStudiezPro: This allows students to keep track of every aspect of college life — class schedules, projects or assignments, social arrangements and contact lists of professors and classmates. For only $2.99 this app is user-friendly and extremely practical.

Quizlet: The Quizlet app helps more than 20 million college students compile flashcards to help with homework, quizzes and finals. You can set the cards to appear in a specific order or randomize the cards to help with studying.

You can’t help the fact that your little ones are finally venturing off to college to live on their own — but with the right dorm room organization tips, you can help set them up for complete success.

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About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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